As Oregon’s reported Coronavirus infections continue to climb, the call for greater protections for working people is climbing as well. Last night, in a remote listening session hosted by Oregon Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA), workers made their voices heard. Workers testified for over two-and-a-half hours about their workplace safety concerns, while over one hundred workers submitted written testimony and twenty organizations provided testimony in support of stronger protections. With cases linked to workplace outbreaks making headlines in recent weeks, it is clear that Oregon needs to do more to protect working people and families.
Graham Trainor, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO, responded to last night’s listening session:
“Working people are putting their health and safety on the line with each shift they work. Oregon’s unions have worked tirelessly since the onset of this crisis to advocate for better protections for all working Oregonians. As Oregon OSHA considers the specific details of both temporary and permanent rules regarding infectious disease standards we have to get it right the first time and create the protections needed to ensure work can be as safe as possible. Last week, the state of Virginia enacted similar protections and our hope is to see Oregon’s go further to match the needs of working people and the dangers they face on the job.”
The Oregon AFL-CIO will continue to organize workers and organizations to submit testimony in favor of increased workplace protections. If workers wish to submit stories about workplace exposure, they have one week to submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no existing Oregon OSHA standard or basic regulatory framework that comprehensively and enforceably addresses an employer's responsibility to protect workers from infectious diseases. The current guidance is time-limited as it is largely tied to Executive Orders and guidance keeps changing through phases in reopening. Changing guidance in workplaces is not beneficial for employers or workers, which is why Oregon OSHA must adopt a strong set of infectious disease standards.
For more information regarding Oregon OSHA’s timeline and process for Coronavirus-related temporary and permanent rule enactments, please click here.